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Rockabilly Artist Kim Lenz Has Murder on Her Mind on 'Pine Me': Exclusive

Kim Lenz
Joseph Cultice

Kim Lenz

Kim Lenz doesn't get overtly political on "Pine Me," a track from her new album, Slowly Speeding, whose video is premiering exclusively below. But the roots-rock singer-songwriter acknowledges that the tenor of the times, including the Women's Marches and the #metoo movement, certainly factored into the song.

"I was finishing it up right as the (2016) election happened," Lenz tells Billboard. "Obviously a lot of women in this country are mortified, and," she adds with a laugh, "I'd been wanting to write a murder ballad for a long time. It seemed like this was the right time."

Lenz actually considers "Pine Me" to be "an answer song to a murder ballad." As depicted in the animated video, it deals with a woman who's murdered by a riverside, then haunts her killer to take her body back to her mother's house -- where he gets his just deserves. "He gets his comeuppance, which I think will please a lot of people," Lenz notes. She also had plenty of fun working on the video with Vienna-based artist Jasper Sek, which turned out to be a nearly four-month process. "I reached out to him because I liked his work," Lenz recalls, "and it was so fun because he doesn't speak English. We'd have these late-night 'What's up?' conversations where I would tell him about the song. He grew up near the woods, so he really liked it. I just really fell in love with his work...I never met him, but maybe I fell in love with him a little." Sek incorporated four kinds of illustrating styles, including traditional frame drawing and 2D motion graphics. "It felt like we were coming from the same place," Lenz says. "I'm really enjoying mixing up different things right now that you don't expect to go together, and he's doing the same thing with his art."

Slowly Speeding, due out Feb. 22, does find the former Jaguars leader spreading out a bit on her fifth solo album. There are still plenty of rockabilly flavors on the 10-song set — as well as a cinematic quality drawn from a screenplay Lenz was also writing — but she incorporated more genres for a wide-ranging Americana set this time out.

"I was stretching on my songwriting for sure," says Lenz, who plans to tour Europe as well as the U.S. to support the album. "My creative approach for this record was to pull together sounds from different time periods and mix them up. Basically the things I love are the things that are all the ingredients of rock 'n' roll -- rockabilly, of course, old blues and blues tones on guitar and Country & Western and swing, white music, black music, secular music, non-secular music, Louvin Brothers harmonies. I wanted to mix all those things together and have a really layered feel and just give people a lot to listen to and think about."

Watch "Pine Me" below.